One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An optical instrument fitted with a mirror or pair of mirrors set at an angle to the line of sight, for use in viewing objects not directly before the eye.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in John Beale (bap. 1608, d. 1683), Church of England clergyman and writer on agriculture and natural philosophy. From post-classical Latin polemoscopium (J. Hevelius Selenographia Prolegomena 24) from ancient Greek πολεμο- + post-classical Latin -scopium.
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